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    Family Pictures – Prologue

                   Davina Thomas didn’t hear her son standing in the doorway to her office, and yet she felt his presence and the slight ache in her heart that came with knowing that he had awakened to the same nightmare. She kept her gaze on the family pictures covering her office wall while her right hand caressed the silky fur of the sleeping cat purring in her arms.


                   “It’s been a long time,” she said. “I thought the dragon had forgotten about us.”


                   “Where would the fun be in that?”


                   “You’re right. We don’t want to get too comfortable in having a normal family life, do we?”


                   She turned to gaze at her son, Jack. He was the image of his father when he was twenty-five years of age. Shaggy dark brown bed head hair framed his perfectly chiseled face with blue eyes. His smile was all hers, though. Not the Hollywood smile Quinn Thomas could force quickly when necessary, but charming with the promise of mischief.


                   The dragon was all theirs, too; an inexplicable and unwelcome nightmare that warned them of bad things to come, always to Davina. She bore the scars from the dragon’s bite—gunshot wound, and the reminders of battles won against cancer.


                   “It was the scariest and silliest dream I think I’ve ever had. The dragon was standing right here in this spot, and he was forcing you to put his picture on my wall. Right there.” Davina nodded her head. “That’s your spot.”


                   “My spot?”


                   “That’s reserved for your family picture of you with your ladylove and your children. The space beside it is for Stevie with hers, and David’s is right below hers.”


                   “Mom, I haven’t found her.”


                   “You will. Some day. What was your dream about?”


                   Jack came up behind her and hugged her. Together they turned and faced the wall of family pictures.


                   “It was scary and silly, too, I guess. I was fighting the dragon. I was fighting him for her. I couldn’t see her, but I could feel her arms wrapped around my waist holding me tight. We were riding Goliath. All the time, she was whispering in my ear, ‘Don’t hurt him, he’s cute.’”


                   Davina laughed.


                   “Crazy. Right?”




                   “So, what do you think it means, Mom?”


                   “That we both had a bit too much to drink at your send-off party last night?”


                   “Seriously, Mom.”


                   “Maybe, this time, the dragon’s not the enemy.”